A new settlement scheme has been launched for EU nationals living in the UK. This is currently being piloted, before opening fully by March 2019. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021.

As part of the pilot, the government is inviting EU nationals employed by Higher Education Institutions with a Tier 4 sponsor licence, to apply between 15 November 2018 and 21 December 2018. These FAQs are designed to tell staff about the scheme and help them decide whether or not to apply as part of the pilot.

How do I apply?

Applications will be made online. You will need to prove your identity and provide evidence of your residence in the UK. If you would prefer not to send away your passport/ID card, you will be able to use an app to upload this. However, this app only works on Android phones (not iPhones).

The government will automatically check HMRC and DWP records for proof of residence. If these are inconclusive then you will be invited to provide further documentary evidence.

A criminal record check is required.

Will I have to prove I have been exercising EU Treaty rights?

To obtain settled status you just need to have been living in the UK for five years. The Home Office will be looking to grant applications rather than to refuse them.

Whereas those who spent time in the UK as students and self-sufficient individuals currently have to provide evidence that they held comprehensive sickness insurance before they can get a permanent residence document, this is not required for the settled status.

What if I have not been in the UK for five years?

In this case you will generally get 'pre-settled status' instead. This will allow you to stay in the UK for a further five years, after which you are expected to apply for settled status.

How much will it cost?

The cost will be £65 per person for those age 16 or over and £32.50 for under-16s.

Anyone who already has a permanent residence document, or indefinite leave to remain, can apply for free. There is also no charge to move from pre-settled, to settled status.

Applicants will not be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

What documentation will I receive to prove my new status?

You will not receive a physical document. Instead you will be able to get proof of your status through an online service. We are waiting for updated guidance on right to work and right to rent checks to mirror this.

What will my rights be?

Settled status will mean you are eligible for public services such as healthcare and schools, public funds and pension.

Once you have settled status, you can leave the UK for up to five years and return again with your settled status intact.

What about non-EU EEA nationals?

The government intends for the scheme to also apply to nationals of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, but this still needs to be formally agreed. So they cannot participate in the pilot.

What about Irish nationals?

Irish citizens may choose to apply for settled status, but they will not be required to do so as they have a separate right of residence in the UK that is not related to EU membership.

Can my family members apply with me?

Once the scheme is fully open, your dependants will be able to apply with you, but during the pilot phase only qualifying employees can apply. If you choose to apply now, your dependants will be able to apply separately at a later date.

Should I apply as part of the pilot?

There are benefits to applying as part of the pilot. The Home Office is in 'learning mode' and is keen to support applicants and receive feedback on how the scheme is operating. Applying now means you will get a quick decision before we leave the EU and will avoid any issues that might arise later as the process becomes more overloaded.

However, there are some disadvantages. The process is still being developed, so you will be, in many ways, 'a guinea pig'. As noted earlier in this article, your family cannot apply with you.

Most significantly, your settled status will not be backdated. If you have evidence that you have exercised EU Treaty Rights in the UK for over five years and wish to naturalise as a British citizen, then rather than apply for settled status under the pilot, you may be better off applying for a permanent residence card, as this can be backdated. You would then be able to apply sooner for naturalisation as a British citizen.